Artist Spotlight, Classical, French, Music History »

Hector Berlioz: Fame Started with Defenestration

Posted June 20, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I recently saw a bottle of red wine with the name “Fenestra.” It made me think of one of Russian musicologist/lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky’s favorite oddball words, “defenestrate,” which means to jump out of or throw something or someone out of a window. “Fenestra” is Italian for window; in French it’s “fenêtre.” (The English word “window” has a Norse origin).  According to Wikipedia:  the term was coined around …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Latin, Music History, music phenomena »

How Dizzy Gillespie and U.S. V.P. Dan Quayle’s Business Card Saved A Great Cuban Trumpeter

Posted June 6, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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It’s not easy to be a jazz musician – or anything but a classical musician - in Cuba.  It’s like the former Soviet Union, where jazz was forbidden and banned. Stalin sent Russia’s Louis Armstrong, Eddie Rosner, to the gulag (Soviet jazz fans called Satchmo the American Eddie Rosner). It’s hard enough to even get a decent instrument if you’re a young Cuban musician; and since you have …

Asia, Music History, music phenomena »

Sony’s Pocket Radio: Grand Theft Gives Birth to a Top Japanese Brand

Posted May 30, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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  President Obama  just returned from a historic trip to Japan, including the first visit to Hiroshima by a sitting U.S. President. It got me thinking about Japan’s recovery from the devastation of WWII. During the U.S. occupation that followed the war’s end, General MacArthur helped rebuild Japan; divine Emperor Hirohito became a person, not a god; and MacArthur’s master plan brought Japan out of the …

brazilian music, Music History, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #160: Odd and Wonderful Brazilian Music

Posted May 27, 2016 by | 7 Comments
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I’m teaching Brazilian music again in my music salon and have been bemoaning the music I haven’t been able to feature in class due to time constraints. I thought I’d share a few of those tracks here instead. We start with music about two favorite Brazilian subjects: cachaça and futebol (foo-chee-ball), which we Americans mislabel soccer (probably because of the other football we have …

African, Latin, Music History, music phenomena, world music »

Yoruba Drums and Cuban Batá

Posted May 23, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I had my brain seriously stretched by a recent podcast of Afropop Worldwide. It was a superb program about “drum speech”–a fascinating subject that has interested ethnomusicologists for a long time. Ned Sublette writes about it in his masterful study, Cuba and its Music: From the First Drum to the Mambo. He’s part the Afropop Worldwide team. I wanted to share just a few things that …

Interviews, Latin, Music History, Performances & Events, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #159: Betto Arcos & the Music of Colombia

Posted May 20, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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I’ve learned a lot from my friend and musical colleague Betto Arcos over the years, and yesterday I learned even more. This time the subject was the music of Colombia, from which he’d recently returned.
Betto, like me, is a world music cheerleader and has been for decades. First and foremost a fan of world music, he has hosted innumerable shows on KCSN and KPFK. Most recently, …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

John Coltrane’s Funeral Service – July 21, 1967

Posted May 18, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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My music teacher Joe Nazzaretta recently sent me John Coltrane’s funeral service program. I am still moved by anything having to do with this genius of modern music. I recall sitting in a Will Rogers State Beach lifeguard tower on July 17, 1967, when I heard the news of Coltrane’s death on the local jazz station, KBCA 105.1 FM. I didn’t even know he was sick with …

Music History, music phenomena, New Releases, Recollections & Rediscoveries, world music »

Paul Bowles: Music of Morocco 1959

Posted May 9, 2016 by | 3 Comments
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Dust to Digital has just released a remarkable and historic box set: Music of Morocco, from the Library of Congress, recorded by Paul Bowles over a five-month period from July to December 1959. It is a snapshot, or perhaps a time capsule, of a culture then relatively pure and unmolested by the world outside.
Paul Bowles lived in Tangier for over 50 years, from his arrival …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Music History, New Releases, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #155: Bach Cello Suites Celebrated by 8 Great Cellists

Posted April 22, 2016 by | 3 Comments
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This is kind of an experimental show. Bach wrote six beautiful suites for solo cello, and I want to showcase two of them through interpretations by eight different cellists. The cello is probably the closest instrument to the human voice in terms of range and pitch. The form even resembles a human body (think Man Ray’s 1924 photo of …

African, Art, Literature & Film, film, Jazz, Music History, music phenomena, world music »

The Armenian-Ethiopian Musical Connection

Posted April 20, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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The Éthiopiques (Ethiopian in French) collection of Ethopian popular music is certainly extensive; 28 volumes produced so far to my knowledge on France’s Buda Musique label, and probably more volumes have appeared since #28. The series was founded by an enterprising Frenchman named Francis Falceto, who went to Addis Abbaba in 1984 in search of Ethiopian popular music after hearing an Ethiopian LP by chance at …

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